The UK's biggest ever investigation of sex trafficking failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution in spite of hundreds of raids on sex workers in a six-month campaign by government departments, specialist agencies and every police force in the country.
The failure has been disclosed by a Guardian investigation which also suggests that the scale of and nature of sex trafficking into the UK has been exaggerated by politicians and media.
Current and former ministers have claimed that thousands of women have been imported into the UK and forced to work as sex slaves, but most of these statements were either based on distortions of quoted sources or fabrications without any source at all.
The analysis, produced by the police Human Trafficking Centre in Sheffield and marked "restricted", suggests there was a striking shortage of sex traffickers to be found in spite of six months of effort by all 55 police forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland together with the UK Border Agency, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, the Foreign Office, the Northern Ireland Office, the Scottish government, the Crown Prosecution Service and various NGOs in what was trumpeted as "the largest ever police crackdown on human trafficking".
vrt. YK: EU-maissa voi olla jopa 270 000 ihmiskaupan uhria
UNODC:n pääsihteerin Antonio Maria Costan mukaan syynä saattaa olla se, ettei poliisi toimi tarpeeksi tehokkaasti.
"Ehkäpä poliisit eivät löydä salakuljettajia ja ihmiskaupan uhreja, koska eivät etsi heitä", hän totesi sunnuntaina, jolloin Euroopassa vietettiin ihmiskaupan vastaista päivää.
Viraston mukaan suurin osa uhreista on naisia, jotka pakotetaan prostituutioon.
Lisäys: Prostitution and trafficking – the anatomy of a moral panic
In the case of sex trafficking, the role of the neo-conservatives and Iraqi exiles has been played by an unlikely union of evangelical Christians with feminist campaigners, who pursued the trafficking tale to secure their greater goal, not of regime change, but of legal change to abolish all prostitution.
The sex trafficking story is a model of misinformation.